HOW THE SERUM SYSTEM WORKS
How does the Serum System Work?
In the past, most removal processes involved physically brushing, sanding, wiping or scraping in conjunction with various cleaning products to loosen the load so that it can be removed via a wipe transfer or hepa vacuumed off the surface and consequently removed from the space.
Serum uses various chemical technologies to achieve the desired results but most of our technology is based on Hydrogen Peroxide as the cleaner.
Serum 1000 is 20% formulated H2O2 Cleaner at a pH of 3. Why is pH a factor? Organic loads respond to lower pH products better and Serum 1000 as a formulated H2O2 cleaner is designed to be to more aggressive making more active radicals to interact with the enzymes within the organic load. Not all H2O2 is created equal.
As an example, the retail H202 you can purchase at the store is 3% and a pH of usually 6 to 6.5. Basically neutral, but it reacts the same way, just not as aggressively.
It performs its function by reacting with the organic load (mold as an example) and the common elements of that mold and other organic loads called a catalase enzyme. It is the catalase enzyme as part of the mold structure that is a by product of mold growth, usually the black or colored stain you see that as
the mold grows acts as the glue that attaches mold to a surface. We call it Bio-Film.
Serum 1000 strips the enzyme (which is a chemical structure) of a molecule so that it can’t function (it does not stick and wants to break free from the surface through the release of oxygen) and as a result the substrate is easier to clean and remove as opposed to older more labor intensive and time consuming methods such as scraping, sanding, wire brushing or wiping.
Application of Serum 1000 and optional Serum Accelerator through the Eliminator Soft Spray System or the Eliminator Mini Soft Spray System are the only tools that exist to provide efficiency eliminating most of the manual processes involved in cleaning and brightening of a surface. It’s at that time that removal can begin as prescribed by the IICRC S520. We prefer a Hepa vacuum process.
What is Serum Accelerator?
Through the process of downstream injection using the spray systems, a pH modifier is injected into the solution hose at a proper dilution to change the pH of Serum 1000 from 3 to 10. It is this rapid change in pH that promotes brightening in the wood allowing for cleaning and stain removal in 1 step. From a chemical perspective there is a direct correlation between lifting of color (staining) and pH. Alkaline products promote this such as bleach (sodium hypochlorite) however strong odors, substrate degradation and building materials exposure limitations not to mention scalability of application are limiting factors.
Understanding what you are using:
Many tools are just that, devices or products designed to make your job easier.
Manual tools such as palm sanders, brushes, blasting machines and spray and wipe chemistries are great and ultimately will give you a great result but the amount of time (process and labor driven) is usually the biggest expense.
The Serum System is quite different: a well documented environmentally friendly cleaning technology combined with an application system to maximize its coverage and the time it takes you to complete the job. Both integral to driving out cost for the work being performed by limiting the amount of time it takes to do it.
What’s the process? Mold Cleaning…
Identify the space to be cleaned and observe scope of work.
Contain the space making sure that all intrusions to the home if it’s a crawl space or attic are sealed. (Specifically, HVAC, plumbing and electrical)
Create a negative air environment venting outside to both catch airborne loads and to create air movement inside the space. (See IICRC standards for specifications)
Remove any insulation, vapor barriers etc… from the space. (It’s obvious that insulation gets in the way of cleaning, hence its removal. Vapor barriers are a catch all when cleaning above them with any liquid and they tend to catch run off and hold that moisture in low spots such at where your knees, hips or elbows create indentations in the crawlspace floor). Set drying equipment based on space and dryer specifications with a target goal of 15% or less when probing the substrate. You may proceed with cleaning once dry standards are achieved.
About the Spray Systems and the correct way to spray and clean…
First, it’s important to understand that the Serum Spray Systems are soft wash meaning they spray at a constant 30 – 35 psi and that this can’t be changed. At .46 gallons per minute flow rate coupled with an 8.0, 8.5 or 9.0 hole size in the spray nozzle, each machine is custom set at the factory to get optimal results. Each machine has a birth certificate and test data on file by its serial number so a quick call to the office and we have the information should a fix be needed.
Always go to your furthest point in the space to be cleaned from the exit point or containment door. If spraying walls with a wood backing use a 40º white spray nozzle provided. This will provide a wide enough spray pattern to cover all surfaces to be sprayed with a backing in even strokes. Always spray in the direction that the joists or studs run. That way you can maximize your spray patterns spraying 16” on center sections one at a time getting both insides of joists and the bottom of sub floors in a couples passes virtually never working directly under what you are spraying. (Common mistakes in spraying with pump ups or other tools include only spraying what you can see in front of you and then remembering you must spray the side you can’t see causing you to go back and under what you just sprayed). When spraying rafters, it is always best to spray from the eves up to the peak thereby never having to work directly under what was just sprayed. Wet is good, running off the wall is too much product.
When spraying 2 x 4 studs with no backing such as interior walls always use a 25 degree spray nozzle provided. You condense your spray pattern to better fit what you are spraying and if sprayed on an angle spraying the short side as well as the long side in one pass will maximize coverage and minimize overspray. Do one side at a time and then repeat on the other side from the opposite angle. Effective, time saving and makes your product go further.
Expect 1500 – 1700 sqft of spray able coverage on joists or studs with backing and 1200 – 1400 sqft of spray able coverage on open studs and rafters.
Consistency of work and productivity:
A two-technician team should be able to clean between 2500 to 4000 spray able sqft an hour depending on accessibility. A 1200 sqft crawlspace cleaned manually might take several days (3-4) with (2-3) technicians doing the work. Time and labor are the costs here. Using the Serum System can reduce the cleaning to less than an hour or so with 2 people (OSHA Standard) and when combined with Hepa removal taking another couple hours, have you out and off the job in a half-day or so. Tremendous savings in labor and frees up associates shortening job cycles. They are available to do more work!
What’s left behind?
The by-product of Serum 1000 Cleaner and Serum Accelerator is Water and Oxygen. Why is this important? In the cleaning of any surface, residues from traditional cleaners that are left behind are frowned upon as it has been argued that those residues can become a food source for future microbial activity. Serum leaves less than .05% of a residue and that is only because it is still active for 12 hours or so after it’s approximately 1 hour dry time before Hepa vacuuming.
Whether you are sanding, scraping, brushing, wiping or cleaning with Serum, all the organic loads present both free floating in the air or on a surface now must be removed via Hepa vacuum or a final wipe rinse.
Fire and Smoke Residue Cleaning process…
As with mold cleaning it is always important to access the job to discover the scope of cleaning. There inevitably will be charred structures, those all get replaced. Soot and smoke residues and odors from those are visible and pungent. Mold is often now present both old and new growth as the structure is exposed and just been dowsed with water in many cases. We will clean all of these.
As with all clean ups of this kind proper PPE and Containments should be applied to protect technicians and to stabilize conditions in the effected structure. Air scrubbers, negative air and tarping if necessary, before any deconstruction or cleaning can proceed. (See IICRC Guidelines)
Serum SR, Serum 1000 and Serum SBC are the products to use:
Soot and visible loads must be cleaned and as those tend to stick to surfaces changing the process. Serum SR is the product for this purpose and when applied first, will break down the adhesion and emulsify the soils of the load to the surface so that it can more easily be removed. Spray from the bottom up on surfaces to avoid very hard to clean streaking later and let dwell 10 to 15 minutes. Removal can be a wipe when working with painted walls or otherwise flat surfaces (Square mops with 4 – 6 foot extendable handles work best for this with either disposable pads or reusable micro fiber). If removing loads from lumber a light water wash is preferred as the house has been wet already. This will remove the load to the floor where it can be extracted. Now dry out the house to set it up for Odor Elimination.
Odor Elimination process…
Serum 1000 and or Serum SBC are the preferred products for odor elimination.
After the space has been cleaned and visible residues have been removed it is time to go after the residues you can’t see that reside in the surface and in places hard to clean like sistered lumber, butt joints, sill plates, headers and cinder block, all commonly known to hold residues that occur from the pressures associated with fire losses.
To eliminate odors in exposed lumber, including open trusses, semi porous and porous materials, spray Serum 1000 on all surfaces making sure to pay attention to joints and areas that are non-exposed. Serum 1000 will migrate into the joints and mechanically disable the smoke molecule (contains the same enzyme as other organic loads) so that it can’t off gas an odor. You will smell a new wood smell, a very good sign you have thoroughly eliminated odors. Hepa is optional at this point as removal of all visible loads has been achieved in prior cleaning steps.
When cleaning un-demolished surfaces such as painted plaster or painted dry wall, use Serum SBC. Serum SBC is 7.9% ready to use product designed to be used in contents cleaning and the wiping down of surfaces that require more care and precision. Recommended application requires a square mop, a clean bucket and either disposable or reusable pads.
Fill a clean bucket half-way with Serum SBC, wet a clean pad in the Serum SBC, lightly wring the pad and affix to mop head. In broad strokes clean surface area making sure you overlap strokes to not miss any surface area. You should get 200 – 300 sqft of cleaning with one pad or clean until pad is visibly soiled. DO NOT REUSE PAD or PLACE BACK IN BUCKET, as this will contaminate the SBC. Dispose off or place in the to be cleaned bag if reusable. Wipe all surfaces and let dry. No need to rinse as it turns to water and air as it reacts and evaporates. The surface is now prepped for repainting.
Pet Odor Elimination process…
Serum CU and Serum SBC are products recommended for use in these situations.
Serum CU is a 20% formulated Hydrogen Peroxide product that can be used as a ready to use for maximum effectiveness or depending on perceived loads to be cleaned, can be diluted up to 8 – 1.
When carpets or other soft surface is involved, typically, using a light detection device to identify areas to be cleaned is preferred. Visible staining is not always observable, and in many cases, it is not just the carpet that is affected. Many times, furniture, walls below the chair rail and baseboard molding hold urine splatter that needs to be removed as part of the process.
Serum CU when sprayed liberally using a Hydro Force Sprayer or a vented pump up sprayer onto and into the surface so that it soaks through the carpet so that it may penetrate the pad and reach the subfloor to pool is preferred.
This process allows for the CU to go where the urine settled which is typically the subfloor. As urine contains the same enzymes present in other organic loads it reacts in similar fashion and disables the molecules to that they may not off gas the odor.
Sub surface extraction using a Water Claw is preferred after a 10 – 15 minute dwell time to flush and vacuum out the load. Follow on with whatever pre spray you use and rinse to fully clean and extract soils from the carpet.
If spraying exposed subfloor where carpet, hardwood or tile has been removed Serum CU should be liberally sprayed on all exposed surface and allowed to dry.
After an hour to dry, a dry vacuum over the entire surface before re-laying flooring is preferred to remove any soils that may have come to the surface.
Wall surfaces, baseboards and upholstery can be deodorized using SBC. Hard surface walls and baseboards are either hand wiped or cleaned using the square mop method used in the Smoke Odor removal process.
Upholstery requires a light spray on the area to be deodorized, let dwell and then using a hand extraction tool flood and extract any residues. Clean the entire piece as normal.
Serum 1000, Serum CU or Serum SBC are the products to be used.
In large clean ups like the Boston Marathon, Serum 1000 was used as an outdoor cleaner on sidewalks, sides of buildings and streets. Its sole purpose was to lift the organic stain residues left on the surfaces post forensic clean up and push waste into the drain system. As Hydrogen Peroxide degrades to water and oxygen this is a suitable solution to cleaning while not affecting the drain system and subsequently the Boston Harbor.
Most scenes are not as large and are more confined… Typical crime blood splatter or expirations are treated like many odors. Once materials that can’t be cleaned are removed, Serum CU for broader surfaces is used to clean and eliminate odors as recommended in Odor Elimination. Wiping is the preferred removal step and it is important to follow the IICRC standard.
Serum SBC is used for detail wipe downs.
Flood, Water, Sewer Back up process…
Serum 1000 is preferred for Bio Washing. Once water has receded or been removed via suction from the structure it is important to stabilize the structure by removing loads considered harmful in a CAT 2 or CAT 3 situation. After deconstruction has occurred to the IICRC S 500 Standard, power wash all visible loads off surfaces to the high-water mark. Dry the structure out to standard and then spray Serum 1000 on all affected surfaces and let dry. Serum 1000 will react with microscopic loads and bring them to the surface so that they may be vacuumed away. Serum is the detail cleaner that allows the surface to be stable longer which is important as power disruption and HVAC use is usually common leaving the ability to condition the space in a timely fashion in question. Following the standard then apply any anti-microbial that may be prescribed and proceed with put back.
Category 1 water losses are much easier and usually originate with an internal broken pipe, water heater and the like. Drying in place is common and a good method for this loss but should too much time elapse a thorough cleaning is recommended. Once walls have been exposed and flooring removed as well containment and dry down to standard, Serum 1000 can be sprayed as it will migrate under sill plates and joints and other semi porous substrates reacting with the organic loads effectively loosening loads from the surface so that they may be cleaned either through a Hepa vacuum, wipe or mop process.
Identification Tool and Consistent Messaging: Business Building
Hydrogen Peroxide Cleaning products are known to your clients. They use retail versions like OxyClean, Scrubbing Bubbles and the like everyday.
We have always found it important to establish a relationship with clients by having a brief discussion about what your using and why.
As Serum is primarily a formulated Hydrogen Peroxide Cleaning System, there is a story to tell too your associates to be used in training and for your clients.
As the processes are so easily grasped and trained, repeatability is more assured at all levels.
The conversation with the client is something like this:
Mrs. Jones, We will be using a Hydrogen Peroxide cleaning technology very much similar to the products you may use in your home. You’ve heard of OxyClean and products like that. One of the many reasons they work so well is that for daily cleaning around the home, their Hydrogen Peroxide base helps bubble up dirt, normal household soils and stains from whatever is cleaned. Makes your job easier and gives a more thorough clean with very little residue.
In our application of Hydrogen Peroxide Cleaning (The Serum System) for your home we use a commercial version designed specifically for the much tougher to clean soils and loads like mold.
We will contain your space, dry it down (and there should be a discussion about the space suit men she will be seeing walking around outside her home, so they don’t freak out about their own safety). Explain safety is key in our company and as our associates come in contact with these cleaning situations everyday, we are bound to make sure we take care of them first. Our next job is to clean remove (whatever needs to be cleaned) from your home. You and your family can rest assured knowing any materials that should not be there are gone and with no residues.
You can even do a demonstration with SBC using gloves and glasses for your client spraying some on a moldy surface and removing with a wipe emphasizing removal.
These kinds of conversations can be reinforced to the associate level as it closes the loop on your corporate messaging about all the reasons why they should choose you. That’s truly leaving better than the way you found it!
Just a few thoughts about the IICRC Certifications Process: Thousands of professionals have attended various classes from Water, Fire/Smoke/Odor, Mold and now more recently Crime/Trauma. Why are these so important? It’s all about working to standards that work and provide the most streamlined, yet documented guidelines for cleaning and removing loads from structures. Knowledge comes in many forms and formal trainings with Industry Standards keep you inside the legal lanes and help protect you. Experiential Learning comes from making the normal mistakes and learning from those lessons that come with time. Networking, working with piers and other forms of interaction are vital to learning and keeping current.
Please take the time to participate in your corporate trainings, networking with your piers and local classes on a regular basis. It does not cost, it Pays!
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